People encouraged to research marketplace health care

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City resident Alison D. Hirsch, who ran for City Council on the Democratic ticket, was outside a downtown restaurant recently and shared some of her thoughts about health care.

Hirsch now volunteers with the state Health Access Network, an agency getting people information about what typically is called “Obamacare” under the federal Affordable Care Law.

Hirsch has heard stories, locally, from those who’ve been able to get coverage for the first time.

Based on her research and experience, Lycoming County has its share.

Young people up to age 26, people with pre-existing conditions and small businesses were able to get some help, she said.

A couple about to have their first baby couldn’t get affordable insurance last year, because pregnancy is a pre-existing condition.

“Now they’re covered with a good plan,” she said.

A woman in her early 60s on a fixed income signed up for the same plan for $97 a month, she said.

Expectant mothers also don’t have to worry about how they’re going to afford prenatal care, according to Hirsch.

“It’s good for all of us because healthier babies and lower health care costs down the road,” she said.

People between the ages of 55 and 65, who are most likely to have health problems, also can breathe a sigh of relief that they may be covered until they become eligible for Medicare, she said.

“Sure, there have been flaws such as the rollout of the national website not working properly, but I’ve been hearing a lot of misinformation,” she said. “I think it’s important for people to find out the facts for themselves and I hope people will do some research for themselves and not let a few negative anecdotes or comments get in the way of finding out the facts and getting the help they need.”

For those without health care, the site may be beneficial if they aren’t provided health insurance at work and if they have a pre-existing medical condition.

“It asks whether you smoke and your and income,” she said.

All politics aside, as of Jan. 1, many more people can get health coverage, some for them first time in their lives, she said.

“They have until March 31 to enroll before another enrollment begins in the fall,” she said.